Props for the Tops: Things to Do Outdoors in Northern Utah
It seems as if southern Utah gets all the love. Yes, it’s spectacular. But northern Utah is the tops — both literally and figuratively. It deserves some props, too. Whether you live nearby and simply need an afternoon escape from your daily routine or you’re coming from farther away for a weekend getaway, these are some of the best outdoor destinations in northern Utah.
Find Peace at Lost Creek State Park
After a pastoral drive through Croyden — watch for sheep and deer on the road — you’ll come to Lost Creek State Park. Appropriately shaped like a hand given’ the peace sign, this wakeless reservoir is the perfect place for a tranquil paddle. SUP? Kayak? Either oar. Canoes and peddle boats are also popular with the fisherpeople. As for the scenery? It’s spectacular. Some sections give off a bit of a Moab vibe as red rock cliffs punctuated with greenery reflect on the glassy water. The landscape surrounding other sections of the reservoir are more mountainous, exuding that classic northern Utah look.
Native northerner tip: Leave work a little early. Go at four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon and you’ll practically have the park to yourself. Stop at Taggart’s Grill on the way there, gawk at the peacocks, then get some carrot cake (or another decadent dessert), put it in a cooler and secure it to your vessel of choice for a mid-paddle snack.
Be an (Ogden) Valley Girl … or Guy
Ogden Valley is nestled in the mountains above Ogden. The two rural communities — Huntsville and Eden — that make up the valley are divided by the Ogden River and Pineview Reservoir. The area is probably best known as the home to Snowbasin Resort, but there’s plenty to see and do after the snow melts. Which is, like, totally awesome. For sure, for sure. May? Run the Ogden Marathon. July? Head to the Monte Cristo or Powder Mountain area for a wildflower photo safari. August? Check out the Ogden Valley Balloon Festival. September? The salmon are swimming upstream at Causey Reservoir. Oh. My. Goooosh! And there are lots of mountain bike trails to wail around Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. All of this combined makes Ogden Valley one of the best outdoor destinations in northern Utah.
Native northerner tip: Bring your mountain bike to Snowbasin on a summer weekend, take the Needles Gondola to the top and ride the Porcupine Trail down … assuming you have the mettle to pedal through some rocky sections on this advanced trail.
Bag Willard Peak
Though Willard Peak is the highest point in Weber County, the trailhead is actually located in Box Elder County, 15 miles from Brigham City in Willard Basin Campground. The 7-mile out-and-back hike passes an alpine lake just before hitting a rocky ridge. Pay careful attention to the cairns as the trail isn’t always well defined, but don’t forget to look up now and then to take in the panoramic views of Willard Bay and its briny neighbor to the south, Great Salt Lake. You might see a few mountain goats as well. If you’re up for a little bit more after summiting this 9,763-footer, wave buh-bye to ‘lil Vincent (van Goat) and take the optional spur over to Ben Lomond Peak — the muse of a mountain that inspired Paramount Pictures’ logo.
Native northerner tip: Cool off with a post-hike shake at Peach City, a local malt shop that dates back to 1937.
Dash Through Cache Valley
Have you ever seen a nearly 10-foot-tall grave for a … grizzly bear? The OHV trail to Old Ephraim’s Grave is one of the most popular in Cache Valley. And there are hundreds more miles of motorized trails to explore. Whether you start from Blacksmith Fork Canyon or Logan Canyon, the labyrinthine OHV trail system extends north to Bear Lake (and beyond) or south to the Monte Cristo area in Ogden Valley. Motor vehicle use maps are available for the Logan Ranger District and the Montpelier Ranger District. There are several campgrounds in the area that serve as good base camps or pit stops along the way.
Native northerner tip: Hop off your rig and take a hike while you’re in the Logan area. Wind Cave is especially beautiful in the autumn, while the Tony Grove Nature Trail and White Pine Creek Trail (which leads to a lake) are in full bloom during summer’s wildflower season.
Looking for more things to do in northern Utah? We’ve got plenty of ideas — from an urban wall crawl filled with larger-than-life murals to some Ogden hiking trails and an overview of fishing spots that are also the tops.